The Editor’s Editorial: The End of the Punisher?

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If you’ve been unlucky (or stupid like me) and read the comments under social media posts related to the last Punisher news, then you also may have come to the conclusion that comic book fans today have never once read a comic book or have some form of permanent brain damage.

To get those fortunate enough to have bypassed these disaster zones I should probably explain what has happened.

First, about a year ago in the comics the Punisher joined The Hand and changed his iconic logo. Was this politically motivated? It’s likely and probable as Marvel was getting a mild backlash after a small number of law enforcement officers had donned the quintessential skull symbol while in uniform. Those officers obviously were not comic readers either as The Punisher’s calling and mission was in part an admonishment of law enforcement’s failures and impotence. But in some social media echo chambers this action by Marvel Comics to alter the traditional skull was obviously not taken too well and a phrase referring to one who has no longer been asleep was obviously thrown around.


Punisher #1 (2022) by Aaron and Saiz

While this does not entirely relate to the most recent news, it is important to understand the perceived motivations that some have to the latest news based on their perceived (and I’ll admit possibly correct) motivations of recent actions surrounding the character. The latest news being that The Punisher is no more. And that statement is the clickbait wording used in social media posts by less reputable outlets who use the outrage to boost their social media clout.

But that’s also similar to the clickbait wording used on reputable sites too who are just trying to draw you into reading their informative articles. So what does it mean? Well, I’m glad you asked and you’ve read beyond the headline.

In the end of Jason Aaron’s Punisher comic run, Frank Castle has put aside the mantle of The Punisher and moved to WeirdWorld to look after orphan children. I, like most people, have not read a Punisher comic book in years, so that is as much as I know. I think the last Punisher series I read was Becky Cloonan’s run from 2016 and I peaked at a few issues when he used the War Machine armor a year later in Rosenburg’s run. If you want to know more you should read the comics because that is the point of comics. Jason Aaron’s entire run is only 12 issues.


Punisher #12 (2023) by Aaron and Saiz

I have to assume the outrage is from people who have never read comics, because otherwise they would know about “retcons” and they might understand the difficulty with trying to find a new story for a character as one note as the Punisher. And, hey, murdering bad guys is a great note that I’ve enjoyed, don’t get me wrong, but I can imagine it gets very boring to write after a while.

But comics do this all the time. They make a radical change to a character, get a year or two of stories out of it until sales peter-out and then they go back to the established status quo. This is no different than a character dying really. It’s going to be undone. Always. Without exception. The outrage and hate that’s vomited on social media over these types of storylines in comics would be funny if I didn’t find them so sad and pathetic. It’s also important to know that companies and social media live off of this outrage you feed them, and they love to feed it right back to you.

What’s truly surprising to me is that this isn’t even the most radical change that’s been made to the Punisher over the years but these so-called “fans” of the Punisher who are outraged don’t even remember that. Almost twenty years ago, he was killed off and he became an avenging angel for Heaven. This flopped horribly, and the series ended before the story was even completed. But in Garth Ennis’ epic run he retconned the story, keeping it in continuity, but also pushing it aside like it didn’t matter.


Punisher #4 (1999) by Golden, Sniegoski, & Wrightson

And if you weren’t already aware, the same thing will happen with the next writer of the Punisher in the next year or two when they ignore everything that’s happened with the character over the past year or two. And it’ll be marketed as the character going back to basics and it’ll come out in time to possibly launch around the time of the new MCU Daredevil series. How do I know this? Because I don’t have amnesia, I know Marvel Comics likes making money, and I’m not an illiterate idiot spewing outrage in the comments of a social media post (I have a website that posts my outrage, thank you).

But, you, you’re reading this. You made it past the headline and the first paragraph. Congrats. Let’s sit back and laugh at the idiots in the comments.


Punisher #1 (2001) by Ennis and Dillon